Little Miss Sunshine (LMS) is a story of the Hoover family’s trip from New Mexico to California so that the little girl, Olive (Abegail Breslin) can take part in a beauty pageant.
All the characters in the movie are introduced in the opening few scenes, so you get a sense of the characters. Olive’s mother, Sheryl’s (Toni Collette) brother Frank (Steve Carrel) comes to live with them because he’s just attempted suicide and has nowhere to go.
Sheryl’s husband, Frank (Greg Kinnear), is a speaker-writer who’s trying to sell his nine-step motivation program to a book agent. His father, Edwin (Alan Arkin), lives with them, because he was kicked out of his old-age home for doing drugs. Dwayne is the teenage son who has given up speaking till he can achieve his dream of joining the Air force.
The family decides over dinner that they’ll all drive together to California, much to Olive’s delight. The movie’s about the trip in a van, the family’s interaction with each other, and the challenges they face along the way.
Each of the actors gives a good performance but for me, Abagail Breslin was the stand out performer. She plays the bespectacled, innocent, young girl so well that you are amazed at the talent of someone who’s so young.
Steve Carrel was the other stand out performer in the movie–playing a gay man who’s just attempted suicide, he manages to convey the despair nicely. For someone who’s more known for his comic roles (The Office, Bruce Almighty, etc.) he did a fantastic job.
The rest of the performers were pretty good as well–Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Paul Dano–they make the movie better. Alan Arkin won an Oscar for best supporting actor but I didn’t think that this performance was anything special. Maybe it’s one of those lifetime-Oscar thingies that they give for a body of work rather than just one role.
The script is funny, the story moves along nicely, and the movie is interesting throughout. I think it’s really hard to make people laugh but LMS manages to do it consistently throughout the movie, even if the humour is a little dark at times. Many multi-character movies fall apart because of a lack of coherence but LMS doesn’t. Little wonder that the script won the Oscar for best original screenplay.
Little Miss Sunshine a movie that I enjoyed thoroughly and I can’t say enough nice things about it–so I am going to stop. There is such a thing as over-hype and I may be guilty of that already.